WORLD GOSPEL KINGDOM TRACTS
Unlocking the Mystery of Human Life
Life Processed for Multiplication
We have seen that the Gospel of John reveals the Lord as the very expression of God coming to us as life. By imparting Himself into us, He becomes everything to us and meets all our needs that He may bring God into us and bring us into God, mingling God with us until God is one with us and we are one with Him. In other words, the Lord is the very expression of God, imparting Himself to us as life, meeting all our needs, and mingling God with us as one. This is the main thought of chapters one through seventeen. All who have been regenerated by Him will be one in this divine life. In fact, we are one with one another in this divine life, even as we are one with God in this divine life. After such a revelation in these seventeen chapters, in chapters eighteen and nineteen the Holy Spirit reveals the Lord’s willingness to go into death and to deliver Himself to death that He might be sown as a grain of wheat into the earth to die in order that He might rise up to release and impart Himself into us, thus bringing forth much fruit by His death and resurrection.
The thought of the Holy Spirit in John Chapters 18 and 19 is not mainly that of the Redeemer bearing our sins, dying for our sins on the Cross, and redeeming us from the curse of our sins. The thought of the Redeemer and His redemption is seen mainly in the first three Gospels. The thought in the Gospel of John, especially in chapters eighteen and nineteen, is mainly that of the Lord as the seed of life going into death and releasing Himself through death and resurrection. In this way, the one grain has been released to produce the many grains. Life originally was restricted to the one grain, but now, by death and resurrection, Christ’s very life has been released, has brought forth many grains, and is now in the many grains. This is the thought concerning the Lord’s death in the Gospel of John.
We have seen that the Lord delivered Himself in voluntary boldness to be processed (John 18:1-11), that He was examined in His dignity by mankind (John 18:12-38a), that He was sentenced in man’s injustice (John 18:38b—19:16), and that He was tested in God’s sovereignty by death (John 19:17-30). In this message we come to the very crucial matter of the issue of the Lord’s death (John 19:31-37).
John 19:34 says, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.” Two substances came out of the Lord’s pierced side: blood and water. Blood is for redemption, dealing with sins (John 1:29; Hebrews 9:22) for the purchase of the Church (Acts 20:28), and water is for imparting life, dealing with death (John 12:24; 3:14-15) for the producing of the Church (Ephesians 5:29-31). On the negative side, the Lord’s death takes away our sins; on the positive side, it imparts life into us. Hence, it has two aspects: the redemptive aspect and the life-imparting aspect. The redemptive aspect is for the life-imparting aspect. The record of the three other Gospels is only for the redemptive aspect of the Lord’s death, but John’s record is not only for the redemptive aspect but also for the life-imparting aspect. In Matthew 27:45, 51; Mark 15:33; and Luke 23:44-45, “darkness,” as a symbol of sin, appeared, and “the veil of the temple,” which separated man from God, “was rent.” Those were signs related to the Lord’s redemptive death. Furthermore, the words spoken by the Lord on the Cross in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them,” and in Matthew 27:46, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (because He bore our sin at that time), also depict the Lord’s redemptive death. But the flowing water and the unbroken bone mentioned by John in Chapter 19:34 and 36 are signs of the Lord’s life-imparting death. This life-imparting death releases the Lord’s divine life from within Him for producing the Church, composed of all His believers into whom His divine life has been imparted. This life-imparting death of the Lord was typified by Adam’s sleep that produced Eve (Genesis 2:21-23), and is signified by the death of the one grain of wheat falling into the ground for the bringing forth of many grains (John 12:24) for the making of the loaf—the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:17). Hence, it is also the life-propagating, life-multiplying, regenerating, and reproducing death.
As we shall see, the Lord’s pierced side was prefigured by Adam’s opened side, out of which Eve was produced (Genesis 2:21-23). The blood was typified by the blood of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:7, 22; Revelation 12:11), and the water by the water that flowed out of the smitten rock (Exodus 17:6; 1 Corinthians 10:4). The blood formed “a fountain” for the washing of sin (Zechariah 13:1), and the water became “the fountain of life” (Psalms 36:9; Revelation 21:6).
Every aspect of the Lord’s death was according to God’s sovereignty. Under God’s sovereignty, not one of the Lord’s bones was broken (John 19:31-33, 36). The Jews, not wanting the bodies to remain on the Cross on the Sabbath, asked Pilate that their legs might be broken. The soldiers then broke the legs of the two thieves who had been crucified with the Lord. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that He had already died. Since the Lord had already died, it was needless for them to break His bones. This indicates that, in a sense, the Lord Jesus was not put to death by human hands but that He died Himself. Although He was crucified, He died Himself, fulfilling His word spoken in John 10:17 and 18, where He said, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it away from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again.” Apparently, Jesus was killed; actually, He laid down His psuche life, His soulish life, and died. While the two criminals were killed, Jesus was not. Rather, He laid down His psuche life for our redemption. Since He had already died, the soldiers did not break His legs. This sovereignly fulfilled the prophecy which said, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken” (John 19:36).
One of the soldiers, being concerned that the Lord might not actually be dead, pierced His side with a spear. This fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10: “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” It was absolutely of God’s sovereignty that these things happened in such a meaningful and wonderful way. This proves strongly that the Lord’s death was not accidental, but that it was planned by God “before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:19-20).
The Lord’s having none of His bones broken was typified by the bones of the Passover Lamb. In the institution of the Passover, God ordained that none of the lamb’s bones should be broken (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:11-12). This was a wonderful type. Later, in Psalm 34:20 this was also prophesied. Both the type and the prophecy were fulfilled in the Lord’s death on the Cross.
In Genesis 2:21-23, we find the Scripture’s first mention of “bone,” which was a rib taken out of Adam for producing and building Eve as a match for Adam. Eve was a type of the Church produced with the Lord’s resurrection life that was released out of Him. In other words, the Church came out of the resurrection life, the unbroken life, the incorruptible life of Christ. His is the life which can never be hurt, damaged, or broken. If one of the Lord’s bones could be broken, it would mean that the Lord’s resurrection life could be hurt and broken by death.
By referring to Genesis Chapter 2, we can easily see the significance of bone—that it signifies resurrection life. One scriptural principle is the principle of the first mention. According to this principle, the first mention of an item in the Bible determines its meaning throughout the Scriptures. By applying this principle to the bones of the Gospel of John, we see that the first place which mentions something about a bone is Genesis Chapter 2, where a rib was taken out of Adam and made into a bride. Eve is a type of the Church, Adam is a type of Christ, and the bone is a type of the resurrection life of Christ. As Eve came out of Adam’s bone, so the Church comes out of Christ’s resurrection life. Eve was made from a bone, and the Church is produced by the divine life. Thus, the bone is a type of resurrection life. The unbroken bone of the Lord Jesus indicates that He is the resurrection life which cannot be broken by death. Hence, bone is a symbol, a figure, of the Lord’s resurrection life, which nothing can break. The Lord’s side was pierced, but not one of His bones was broken. This signifies that though the Lord’s physical life was killed, His resurrection life, the very divine life, could not be hurt or damaged by anything. Jesus was hurt, damaged, and put to death in His psuche life, His soulish life, not in His divine life. Although His human life was destroyed by death, His divine life could not be damaged. This is the life with which the Church is produced and built.
After the incident regarding the Lord’s bones, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and “immediately there came out blood and water” (John 19:34, 37). Although the Lord’s resurrection life was not broken, He Himself was broken that His divine life might be released. Here, water signifies life. This is portrayed in the Old Testament by the smitten rock out of which the living waters flowed to quench the thirst of the children of Israel (Exodus 17:6). The Lord is the rock who was smitten on the Cross. He was broken so that His divine life could flow out of Him as living water. Not only did water come out of Him but also blood, the symbol of redemption. Before we can take the Lord as the living water of life, we must firstly be cleansed. Thus, blood is mentioned as the first item and water as the second. After we have been cleansed by the blood, then we are enabled to receive the Lord as life. These points cannot be found in the other three Gospels. They are only found in the Gospel of John, because it is a book which reveals that the Lord as life could only have been released by His death. While the record of the other three Gospels is mainly for redemption, the record in the Gospel of John is mainly for the release of life.
The piercing of the Lord’s side was typified by Adam’s opened side (Genesis 2:21). Adam’s side was opened and a rib was taken out. Here, Jesus’ side was opened and blood and water flowed out from this opened side.
The blood which flowed out of the Lord’s side is for redemption (Hebrews 9:22; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Romans 3:25). Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” The blood here signifies the redemptive aspect of Christ’s death (John 1:29). The blood which flowed out for our redemption was typified by the blood of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:7). As Zechariah 13:1 indicates, this redeeming blood formed a fountain for the washing of sins. Hallelujah for such a fountain! This fountain is not for drinking but for washing. The blood which flowed out was also for purchasing the Church (Acts 20:28). The blood which formed a fountain for the washing of sins was the price of the purchase of the Church.
The water which flowed out of His side signifies the life-imparting aspect of Christ’s death (John 12:24). Water is for the imparting of life (John 4:14; Revelation 22:1). As we have pointed out, this is typified by the water flowing out of the smitten rock (Exodus 17:6; 1 Corinthians 10:4). This water became “the fountain of life” (Psalms 36:9). While the blood formed a fountain for washing, the water formed a fountain for drinking. The blood was for the purchase of the Church, whereas the water, signifying the eternal life, was for the producing of the Church. As we have seen, this is typified by Eve having been produced out of Adam’s released rib.
This second aspect of the Lord’s death is the life-releasing, life-propagating, life-multiplying death, the generating and reproducing death. When the Lord Jesus said that He was a grain of wheat falling into the ground to die that many grains might be produced (John 12:24), He was referring to the life-imparting aspect of His death. The dying of this grain of wheat was not for redemption; it was absolutely for imparting into the many grains the life that was in the original grain. On the negative side, Christ’s death removed our sins; on the positive side, it imparted the divine life into us. As we believe in Him today, our sins are removed by His redemptive death, and eternal life is imparted into us by His life-imparting death. This life-imparting death is also the life-releasing, life-propagating, and life-multiplying death. It is the generating and reproducing death.
Consider a grain of wheat. Its life is confined within the grain. By death, the life in the grain is released. Likewise, by His death on the Cross, Christ’s divine life was released. Hence, His death was the life-releasing death. Since His divine life was not only released out of Him but also imparted into us, His death was the life-imparting death. On His side, it was the life-releasing death; on our side, it is the life-imparting death. Moreover, it is the life-propagating death, for by it life is spread in many directions. Furthermore, it is the life-multiplying death, causing the multiplication of life. It is also the life-reproducing death, for the one grain has been reproduced in the many grains. How we need to be impressed with these wonderful aspects of the Lord’s all-inclusive death.
In chapter one of John, we saw the Lamb with the dove. It is not adequate just to have the Lamb. We also need the dove. The Lamb is mainly for redemption, and the dove is mainly for the imparting of life. This is God’s economy.
The life-imparting aspect of the Lord’s death is even more wonderful than the redemptive aspect. Redemption is excellent, marvelous, and wonderful, and it seems that nothing can surpass it. But life-imparting exceeds redemption. Suppose a sinner comes to the Lord and believes on Him as the Lamb of God who died on the Cross for his sins, shedding His blood for his sins. The blood even forms a fountain in which he can be cleansed. How wonderful this is! But suppose he is only washed and, experiencing nothing else, is then brought into a heavenly mansion. Although he is washed, he is still dead, like a corpse in a mortuary. He is now deadly clean, being a dead person who had been washed by the blood. By this we see that it is not enough to be cleansed by the blood. We must also be living. There is no need for us to go to a heavenly mansion, for as long as we have the divine life and are living, we have the mutual abode for us and God. If we are redeemed without being reborn, our condition is still poor. God’s purpose is that redemption be followed by the imparting of life. Redemption is for this, preparing the way for us to receive the divine life. The water must follow the blood. We have seen that the blood signifies the redemptive aspect of Christ’s death and that the water signifies the life-imparting aspect. The blood is for redemption, forming a fountain in which we may be cleansed, and the water is for regeneration, forming a fountain of living water from which we may drink at any time. Outwardly we have been washed and inwardly we have been filled with this divine life. Now we are living as well as clean, and we all can shout, “Hallelujah! I have been redeemed and I have been born again!”
Among Christians today, there are endless teachings about the Lord’s redemptive death as seen in the first three Gospels, but the life-giving aspect of His death as seen in the Gospel of John has been much neglected. Most Christians neglect this because they have never adequately seen the matter of life. However, during the last several years the Lord has revealed this matter to His Church. We are becoming clearer that this is the main aspect of the Lord’s death and that the redemptive aspect is supplementary. The eternal purpose of God is to impart Himself into us as life—this is the main aspect. But we have committed sin. Hence, redemption is necessary as a stopgap procedure. But this is not the main aspect. From eternity past to eternity future, God’s intention is to impart Himself into us as life. During the process of time, we became fallen and committed sin. The fall brought about a gap in God’s eternal purpose. God bridged this gap and filled it in with redemption. By this we see that redemption is supplementary to the main aspect of the Lord’s death. Thus, the main point regarding the Lord’s death in John’s record is that it released life and imparted it into us.
After the Lord had completed His work in His death, He rested (John 19:38-42). In John Chapters 18 and 19 we see the many evil things and sufferings which came to the Lord. Some treated Him evilly, others mocked Him, and even His most intimate disciple denied Him. Everything in His environment was dark. But, however evil were the events and however much He suffered, He endured them all and passed through them victoriously, showing that He is the victorious and conquering life. His is not the life conquered; His is the life conquering. Thus, immediately after His death, the environment was changed from black to white. After the Lord accomplished His redemptive and life-imparting death, His situation of suffering immediately changed into an honorable one. Before His death, everything was evil and deadly; after His death, everything became pleasant and agreeable. Joseph of Arimathea, “a rich man” (John 19:38; Matthew 27:57), and Nicodemus, “a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1), came with linen and very expensive spices, myrrh and aloes (John 19:39-40), to prepare His body for burial. It was not the poor but the noble who cared for His body, burying Him in a new tomb “with the rich” (John 19:41; Isaiah 53:9). By this we see that the whole situation was changed into a rich condition, a noble state, a new sphere. The Lord was now dear to people, and they valued Him very highly. Hence, the Lord rested in human honor. Although He was put to death in shame, He was buried in honor. The problem had been with death, but after the Lord died, this problem was solved. When He died, the trouble and the evil things were over. Now, according to God’s sovereignty, in human honor of a high standard, the Lord rested on the Sabbath day (John 19:42, Luke 23:55-56), waiting for the time to resurrect from among the dead. In John 5:17 while the Jews were keeping their Sabbath, the Lord told them that the Father and He were working. Now that His work had been finished, He rested and enjoyed a proper Sabbath day. After this Sabbath, on the first day of the week, He would rise up from His resting place. In the next message we shall consider the Lord’s resurrection.
By reading John Chapters 18 and 19 and considering all the points found in these chapters, we shall be able to understand the significance of the Lord’s death. These chapters reveal how the Lord delivered Himself in voluntary boldness and conquered the environment of death and its influence, proving that He is the conquering, resurrection life, and dying that He might release Himself into us as life. After He accomplished this, He was highly valued and put into rest. The purpose of these two chapters is to show that the Lord was willing to deliver Himself to death and, by this, to prove that He is the resurrection life, the conquering life which can never be hurt, damaged, or subdued by death. He proved that death could not conquer Him but that it could only release Him as life. On the one hand, the Lord could not be broken; on the other hand, He was broken. As the resurrection life, He could not be broken; but for the purpose of releasing Himself as life, He was broken. That none of His bones was broken proved that nothing of His resurrection life could be broken. However, He was willing to suffer and to be pierced that life might be released and imparted into us. Once this had been accomplished, He rested and waited for the resurrection.
We also arrive at the correct understanding of the Lord’s death by comparing the record of the Gospel of John with the records of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. These three Gospels show that the Lord died for redemption, but the Gospel of John reveals that He not only died for redemption but especially for the release of life. Thus, by His death, we have been redeemed and have had His life released and imparted into us.
Verses and footnotes are taken from The Recovery Version of the Holy Bible and Words of Ministry from Brother Witness Lee, The Life-Study of John Messages 42-45 and [with personal enlightenment and inspiration]. Both are published by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA. All Rights Reserved.
Let us walk becomingly as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in fornication and licentiousness, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.
Romans 13:13, 14